It wasn’t long after the invention of the automobile that people became obsessed with acquiring more speed. For manufacturers, having the world’s fastest production car was a major honor, though it took a few decades before objectively minded trade publications made it possible to compete on a level playing field.
Most production vehicles only manage to hold the record for a few years. There are, of course, exceptions. Lamborghini’s Miura P400 maintained its title as world’s fastest production car from 1970 to 1982, when the LP500 S version of the Countach debuted. The next decade would see the record change hands almost yearly until McLaren’s carbon-bodied F1 achieved 240 mph — destroying the previous benchmark by a wide margin.
While there is some contention that the F1’s maximum speed was only achievable via the elimination of its rev limiter, it still set the record at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien proving ground in 1993 under accepted guidelines and held that record until 2005. With the limiter intact, many argue the Jaguar XJ220 or RUF CTR2 would have been king of the hill until the Bugatti Veyron’s debut. Regardless, McLaren still built a production vehicle that was physically capable of reaching 240 mph and never bothered to reach any higher.
That’s expected to change once the company’s love song to the F1, the BP23 Hyper-GT, comes out.
You may find the idea that relatively obscure British sports car, with fewer than 16,000 made, could be the most inspirational or influential sports car ever a bit far-fetched, but I think a compelling argument can be made in the favor of the Lotus Elan. Yes, there were two seaters going back to the MG TC and even before that there were cars like the the Jaguar SS100. In many people’s minds the MGB defined 1960s era two seat roadsters, but was the B that much different from the Austin Healeys, the MGA, and the Jaguar XKs? An argument could be made that the Elan was the first modern sports car (putting aside the E Type Jaguar for the sake of argument) and it was introduced almost simultaneously with the MGB. Its contemporaries from MG and Triumph were primitive cars compared to the Elan.
In the past few days virtually every automotive website on the intertubes has reported on the Polish man who hand built his own McLaren F1 replica in his shed. If you have been stuck under a rock and have missed it, allow me bring you up to speed. Jacek Mazur, a man who describes himself rather modestly, I think, as an “amateur mechanic” built his own tubular space frame, mounted a used BMW v12 amidships, popped on a homemade fiberglass body and built a car capable of a claimed 200mph. This isn’t the first exotic car that Mazur has built either. Previous builds include no less than three Lamborghini Countachs and a replica of the highly exotic, much sought after, Pontiac Fiero. Despite Mr. Mazur’s impressive work, America has not ceded victory in the war for the homemade car to the Poles. Not by a damnsight.
‘Our aim is not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit’, says McLaren Automotive Managing Director Antony Sheriff. ‘It is the true test of a supercar’s all round ability and a much more important technical statement. Our goal is to make the McLaren P1 the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made.’
Oh McLaren, you so crazy!
I mean it.
You’re crazy. Like, if you think supercar buyers will make any purchase decision based on your in-house road-course lap times, you’re really crazy.
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